djr-2018-12-03-news-trump-best-restp6

President Donald Trump speaks to Tupelo residents and supporters last week at the Tupelo Regional Airport.

TUPELO • President Donald Trump’s campaign website officially announced the president will host a rally at 7 p.m. Nov. 1 at the BancorpSouth Arena to campaign for Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves ahead of the state’s election for governor.

Todd Hunt, the executive director of the BancorpSouth Arena, confirmed to the Daily Journal by phone that the campaign has signed a contract to host the event. The arena sent a notice out that the arena will not handle box office requests, and they will be handled through the campaign.

Reeves, the Republican nominee for governor, tweeted that he was proud to welcome Trump back to the state.

“He knows how important it is to defeat Jim Hood, who supported Hillary Clinton and still works to undermine Trump like the rest of his Democrat party,” Reeves tweeted.

Attorney General Jim Hood’s campaign told the Daily Journal in a statement that the reason Trump is coming to the state is because Reeves has “failed miserably to inspire or excite his own supporters.”

“Tate Reeves can’t hold his own in this race, so he’s looking for someone to hold his hand,” the Hood campaign said. “And when the president leaves, Tate Reeves will still be here, walling in eight years of failed leadership and his inability to do anything to improve the lives of working Mississippians.”

The rally will come just four days before the state’s general election, where Mississippians will decide to election Reeves or Hood, the Democratic nominee for governor on Nov. 5

Mayor Jason Shelton, a Democrat, sent a letter to the Republican president on Oct. 8 saying he was aware of Trump’s visit to Tupelo and wanted to request the opportunity to greet and welcome the president to the All America City.

“During your last visit to Tupelo, I did not have the opportunity to officially greet you as President of the United States when you were here to campaign for Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, but would hope to have that opportunity during this campaign visit.”

The rally marks Trump’s third visit to Mississippi since he took office in January 2017. He hosted a rally in Southaven on Oct. 2, 2018, and a rally in Tupelo and Biloxi on Nov. 26, 2018, to support U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith in her campaign for the Senate.

Shelton received some criticism last year for not attending Trump’s rally at the regional airport to campaign for Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, even though Shelton said he was not invited to the event last year.

Shelton said he is being proactive this year to try and request a meeting with Trump to officially welcome him to Tupelo. He said if Trump does come to Tupelo and hosts an event at the BancorpSouth Arena, he intends to be at the arena in his official capacity as mayor in case he is needed. However, he does not plan to take part in the campaign rally, and he has not been invited to the proposed rally.

“I’ve been openly campaigning for Jim Hood,” Shelton said. “I’ve known Lt. Gov. Reeves, and he’s a very good politician. I can’t imagine him wanting someone at his event that doesn’t support his agenda.”

Shelton said his administration and the city departments will assist the Trump campaign in order to make the president’s visit run smoothly, just as his administration did during Trump’s last visit even though Shelton is supporting Reeves’ opponent.

“I don’t support Lt. Gov. Reeves or the president politically, but I’m certainly not going to be rude,” Shelton told the Daily Journal.

taylor.vance@journalinc.com

Twitter: @taylor_vance28

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